The best pilates in Southampton? I'd like to think we're up there with the best! Pilates with Priya studio, mat workout

The best Pilates in Southampton in 2024?

If you are looking for the best pilates in Southampton then I’d like to think we are up there with the best. Not because our teachers wear lycra matching sets or because we have an ultra sophisticated studio. We are the place you come are you are, workout clothes, leggings or comfy clothes, we don’t mind.

The best pilates in Southampton? I'd like to think we're up there with the best! Pilates with Priya studio, mat workout

That’s because in the Pilates with Priya studio we are all about Pilates (obviously but also community. We want everyone to feel welcome. So at our studio you will find all ages, all body shapes and sizes, all types of people with a common interest. All wanting to work on their bodies staying functional and strong for life. There is no competition, instead these classes are about focusing on your own form and technique so you get the benefits you need.

Why our Pilates in Southampton Classes are so good:

So often Pilates classes can feel intimidating with everyone knowing what they are doing and looking fabulous. If you are new pilates can feel like a new language that makes no sense. When do I breath? What leg is it now? How do I engage my core and breath and move?

We get it! It takes time and there is no pressure to get it all right. In fact Pilates is very much a practice where you are continually learning and finding more to work on in each move. You will likely never perfect a move!

In the Pilates with Priya studio we aim for you to feel comfortable whereever your starting point is. We want you to walk out feeling better than when you walked in, taller, stronger, stretched and supported.

This isn’t Pilates for aesthetics (though it can help with that), but Pilates for strong muscles, for posture, for mental health, for your nervous system, for your pelvic floor and for overall health.

Pilates with Priya Classes on offer:

Our classes include pregnancy pilates, postnatal pilates, rehabilitation pilates and beginner to advanced pilates classes. Priya also works with people on a 1-1 basis providing her specialist skills for pelvic floor rehabilitation, diastasis recti healing and reformer pilates too.

We have men and women in our classes (mainly women it must be said but men are always very welcome too). Currently our oldest member is in her 70’s, we have had clients up to 85yrs, showing Pilates is for life!

In 2024 Pilates really should be on your to-do list.

Back to Term, Sept 2022 Classes

What a glorious summer it has been, whilst the studio has remained open with our zoom classes running too, it has definitely been quieter. I’ve been practicising Pilates whilst camping in Dorset, on the paddleboard in the river and on the beach, you can see a few flows below.

Our classes are back full steam ahead from September, it is a perfect time to join us as a beginner as we will be going BACK TO BASICS and focusing on that all important technique again. So if you have never tried Pilates, now is the time to come along.

Classes are in person, over zoom and also recorded for you to do again, do an extra class or to catch up on. We’ve a huge screen in the studio so the teachers can really keep that eagle eye on you. Our class timetable is here. We have beginner, intermediate, advanced, pregnancy, postnatal and gentler classes with clients from 11yrs – over 70yrs!

If you are new to us or have been around for years, myself and the team cannot wait to welcome you back with big smiles and holiday tales. So if know you are going to need a ray of sunshine in your week as the Autumn approaches, pilates can help!

Benefits of Pilates

It goes without saying I am a HUGE fan of Pilates, but I didn’t use to be! I was a fan of high intensity workouts, thinking that unless I left a pile of sweat on the floor the workout wasn’t being effective. Now whilst I still do like a bit of high intensity now and again, what I have learnt is Pilates really can work you hard and lead to a strong body.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • All over strength for the whole body. Pilates can help build bone strength, muscle mass as well as that core too.
  • Improved posture and body awareness, which can go hand in hand. By knowing your posture issues you can start to correct and work on them throughout daily life.
  • The deep breathing used in Pilates can help with stress/anxiety management and with releasing tight areas in the ribcage, back and pelvic floor.
  • Improve your balance and co-ordination. Pilates teaches you to weight transfer effectively and work on your standing balance too.
  • Prevention of injuries. Once you are more connected to your body, balanced and co-ordinated it goes without saying that it helps prevent injuries in other sports too.
  • Sets the foundation for other movement. If you do other fitness related activities too then Pilates can help you be strong from the inside out.

The best way to start Pilates is to find a beginners class or do a 1-1 session to connect with the all essential basics. The breath, the set up position of the body and the activation of the core are those building blocks that you very much need to get under your belt before moving to the actual movement.

If you want to join a class then we have spaces in the studio or email [email protected] to book a 1-1 session with one of our experienced teachers!

Top tips for your nervous system.

With 2020 having been the most stressful year for most of us, it feels like the start of 2021 is a good time to think about how to stay in a calmer place. It isn’t always possible to lower your stress levels (especially when that stress is a global pandemic) but there are ways we can help our bodies and brains deal with it.

The sympathetic nervous system is our “fight or flight” side, fuelling by adrenaline, it helps us be on alert and run away or to stand and fight. We totally need this system but we don’t want it switched on overdrive all the time. If you have been living life on the edge for some time then your body will be functioning on high alert which will be exhausting and after a while it takes its toll. You may notice digestive issues, constant fatigue, headaches, anxiety and mood disorders. If that is where you are right now then read on.

The parasympathetic nervous system is our rest and digest side, its the side that kicks in when we sit down and kick back on the sofa. It also keeps our basic body functions working as they should, including digestion, heart rate, the bladder and sexual function.

So how do we stimulate the rest and digest side more?

  • If there are any stressors you can reduce look at doing this. Our body is designed to cope with stress but not all the time.
  • Use mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing or- you guessed it- pilates to help bring down your reactions to stress. Ever noticed how you leave your pilates class feeling calmer, clearer in your head and better in your body? It is a great coping tool.
  • Massage can help you move from that place of stress to relaxation too. Regular massage could help you with the stress response. If you can’t get a regular massage in person then try seem self massage using a massage ball, or a partner.
  • Moderate exercise of any sort can help you stress bust. Can you build activity into your everyday. Gardening, walking, cycling, running whatever works for you.
  • Take 10 minutes to sit and reflect. A gratitude journal can be a great way to do this. Focusing on the positives helps you to see life is not all bad.
  • Make sure you have enough relaxation and chill out time in your day/week.

How does Pilates help?

Well it helps you slow down, breath deeply, concentrate on your body movements and move mindfully. Plus it is exercise and time for you.

If you want to take up Pilates to help with this then our online classes run 6 days a week, plus pregnancy and postnatal classes too. Sign up by emailing [email protected]

Getting the most out of Online Classes

Lockdown has really opened up the online world, with gyms reopening are you ready to go back or are you loving online? Personally I love the convenience of online classes and the chance to access workshops I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. There are now so many different ways to access Pilates and fitness classes online. They vary in price, platform and the way they are taught, so which is the best option for you?

Having taught Pilates online throughout the Covid-19 time and having also attended a number of other people’s classes throughout this time too here is my run down on the options.

Live Streaming vs On Demand:

  • Live streaming really does make you feel you are part of something and it can make you attend! If you have it scheduled in your diary and the class is live then there is more of an obligation to be there (albeit on a screen).
  • On demand is fabulous if you have an ever changing schedule, are working around a family or just want to catch up in your own time. In my classes we’ve had children join in, pets and even my chickens made an appearance.
  • Ideally you probably want the luxury of both options. A live streamed class that you can attend if you are able but if you can’t make it then the option to watch it on demand. 

Seen vs Hidden:

  • Having a platform where the instructor can see you can be so very valuable. There are a couple of ways this can be done. A large class will mean you get the interaction but it won’t be very personalised. You will get the buzz and fun still.
  • A small class where you can be seen will mean the teacher can ask you if you have any injuries, adapt the class to suit you, offer corrections and technique adjustments and converse with you. A lot more like being in an actual class. 
  • As a teacher being able to see people brings me joy! As much as I love teaching online I really like to be able to converse with the people I’m teaching and alter the class to suit them as we go. Being able to see how people are moving shows me what needs to be worked on so I can plan this in for subsequent classes. 
  • There can be a real community from Zoom style classes. The chatter before and after connects you together and builds those friendships. Building on this a facebook/whatsapp group can be used to continue the chatter between classes. I’ve actually found lockdown has lead to seeing more people from classes I don’t normally teach and for more connection.

Screen and Access:

  • It can be handy to think about where you are going to do the class and how you will watch it. Your phone screen is handy when you are travelling or not at home but really too small to see the detail. Having a tablet, a laptop or linking to the TV is better.
  • Space to exercise safely can be an issue. There have been some amazing creative solutions over lockdown. Think about an outside space, driveway, kitchen, bedroom floor. 
  • Get your own equipment. Whilst you can adapt and use things around the house it makes it a nicer experience to have your own mat, band and head cushion. It’s like getting new workout clothes, always makes you enjoy your workout more.

The classes from Pilates with Priya are aimed at moving you forward in your Pilates journey, helping you move better and release tension and pain from your body. Therefore we like to be able to see you and get feedback, but you also get our classes on demand for later too. You will often see our teachers up close to the screen getting a clear view or asking how things feel. It is not about just exercise but technique and lockdown has shown that you can achieve that through a screen. Whilst it is always nicer to be in person with some creativity you can get the benefits online too. 

If you would like to join us then please do get in touch. I have 3 tiers of monthly membership starting from just £10 a month.

The New Normal?

Whilst lockdown has been a tough, it has also been a time of innovation and learning to work in new ways.

Online classes have been popping up everywhere with versions where you can see all the particpants and versions where you cannot. It’s been a time to try new things or go old-school back to things you used to enjoy. A time to slow down the pace and a time to reflect on what is important.

I’ve felt so very lucky to be able to run classes online, it has brought me a lot of joy to be able to see my class members online each week and to chat to them. It has also been pretty exhausting to adapt to new ways of doing things, so I’m super proud and thankful to everyone in our studio for doing this and for sticking with us whilst we worked it out.

To be honest I wasn’t convinced online classes would work, how can you correct people over the internet? It turns out that if you are creative it can work well and for some of our classes such as the postnatal ones I think it works better for some people. Whilst I will always be a lover of being hands on with people and seeing people face to face I can see that online classes have their benefits too.

Benefits of online classes:
– Able to join from wherever you are, you don’t have to be local, it is lovely to welcome back people who had moved away and welcome new people.
– Safety in terms of physical health.
– You can do it in your PJs!
– No travel.
– You don’t have to be in a certain room, you could be in the garden, the park or anywhere as long as you have your phone with you!
– No need for childcare.


Problems with online classes:
– Lack of space and equipment. It has lead to some creative solutions with baked bean cans, pairs of tights and using childrens bedrooms. Where there is a will, there’s a way!
– Not wanting people to see you in your homes. I totally understand this, but also I promise once you have done it you will realise people really are only watching the teacher.
– Internet access and technology glitches!
– Having “helpers” so you don’t get the peaceful class you would like.
– Harder to follow over a screen.

Whilst group classes online are not for everyone, I totally understand that being able to see each other in your own homes is not always ideal, it has opened the doors for those with children or those who have moved way who want to join in. For me, it has been lovely to see all the pets and children joining in! I like to be able to see people whilst they do pilates so I can offer correction and teaching tips.

The future for us right now will continue to involve some online classes, I imagine these are there to stay. This time is a time for you to decide what works best for you. So if you are enjoying the online classes and do not feel the need to come back to the studio as soon as it is possible, we will be supporting that. If you know you need to be in the studio to get away from the house, then we hope to support that with limited numbers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you have found online classes and what that sweet spot is with online and in person?

Should I exercise or rest?

Exercise. It’s one of those things that you often really need to motivate and push yourself to do. As mummy to 3 children I know what it is like to be a little bit on the jaded side….. or what it is like to be so darn tired you are hardly thinking straight and haven’t noticed your top is on inside out (that was me yesterday). 

So the question is when do you need to push yourself to exercise and when do you need to rest? I struggle with this one. Big time.  As someone who teaches Pilates I often have to go and just do it anyway because it is my job.  What I find is usually it makes me feel better. Exercise is amazing as it can energise you, relax you, remove your stress and leave you feeling pumped up ready for the rest of the day. However if you are unwell it can also zapp your energy levels and leave you feeling worse than before. So the key is to know when to Go Go Go and when to STOP.

Part of self care is moving and stopping. The balance between collapsing on the sofa and watching TV or doing 30 minutes of activity that helps fix your body is a toughie.

Here are the times I think you should REST:

  1. If you are unwell with a virus/bug. It may seem obvious but it can be tough to do for some people. This is totally relevant right now with Covid-19 (see guidance on this below). We all take different times to recover, so rather than judging by someone elses recovery do listen to your body.  If you are older, have a weakened immune system and know recovery takes you longer generally then BE KIND TO YOU. 
  2. If you have had COVID-19 then some extra thoughts for you. Some people appear to get a mild version, some a much worse version. This will determine your recovery rates, so if you have been really unwell do not expect to bounce back to exercise. Instead take it slow and build your fitness back up. When you are ill, your pulse rate is generally a little higher than normal, particularly if you have a high temperature or are a little dehydrated. Exercising too hard will push your heart rate up higher which could send you backwards in your recovery. 
  3. When your body just wants to sleep and you know you have been over doing it. Maybe you have had a lot of late nights working or up with children. When you are so very tired you are more likely to injure yourself so if you do exercise keep it gentle. A walk or gentle stretch maybe.
  4. If you have just had a baby then it is also key for your body to rest and heal. Whilst walking and gentle movement in the first 6 weeks can be good to do, you do not want to over do things. The 4th trimester is a time to let yourself heal, to be with your baby, and to let your nervous system calm down.
  5. For some women the heavier days of their period are times to also rest or take exercise in a gentler way. Exercise can help boost your mood but progesterone and oestrogen levels are lower which can leave you tired. Swap high intensity work for resistance training, pilates or walking and see how it feels. Ultimately listen to your body!
Photo by Anupam Mahapatra on Unsplash

If you are looking for some Pilates you can do from home then we have daily classes running or you can use our membership portal for £10 a month access to a whole pile of Pilates video content.

Online pilates classes

We have moved ONLINE

It’s been a whirlwind turnaround but I’m super proud and pleased to say that although sadly the studio is physically closed we are not actually closed! Our classes are running online in a variety of ways. Pilates is a fabulous way to destress, clear your mind and keep moving during this tricky time. I know from the kind messages I get that it is keeping a lot of people going right now.

After a week of testing the technology from the studio and almost getting on top of it, lockdown hit and now all teachers are teaching from their homes. Which means you still get to see your favourite teacher but it may look and feel a little different. What we are finding is teaching online is quite intimate. We get to see you in your home, you get to see us in ours and its kinda nice. You can come to class in your PJs, with your children, pets or your favourite drink.

Plus, if you miss your actual class, not to worry as right now to help us all through this time, you get full access to all the classes that are taught in the studio, on a catch up basis. So you can log into our studio facebook group and view them there, or most classes are also being added to the membership portal. All for the usual monthly price of one class.

If you have any friends who have wanted to try Pilates then this is a great time to do so and they can be based anywhere! We will have some induction sessions running online and then they can join the normal classes for £35 a month or have access to just the membership portal for £10 a month.

Pilates: you’re worth it.

I’m noticing more people are now being told to do Pilates by health professionals. Which is fantastic as quite frankly I think everyone should be practising Pilates. In an age where self care is all the rage, Pilates is the epitome of this. It is a way to look after your body in a loving way. Yes you will work and maybe even “glow” but the emphasis is on quality of movement and connecting with how your body works.

Now you don’t need an anatomy degree to come to a class but having an awareness about your movement will be beneficial. If you don’t have one yet then after a few classes you certainly will be starting to.

Taking time out of your week to lie down, breath, focus on your muscles and then move is the perfect antidote to a hectic lifestyle. It can calm your nervous system whilst working the whole body. People come into a class stressed out and leave in the opposite mood.

We only have one body and it’s key to keep it functioning as well as possible. Pilates can help lubricate stiff joints, stretch the body out after a days work or a bad nights sleep and works muscle groups to keep them healthy. With parts of our body it is certainly “use it or lose it”. Some of the best Pilates moments I have with people is when they can do movements they had not been able to do for some time, such as touch their toes or get down to the mat and up again unaided.

Then as you delve deeper Pilates just keeps giving. 10 years on and I still feel like I’m learning and re-learning the exercises and technique. Now that either means I was awful to start with (quite possibly) or my body has changed over the years (3 babies and 10 years of ageing) so I have to keep adapting and learning. I’ll let you decide which!

So I see Pilates as part of the way I keep taking care of my body. What are you doing for your body this week?

How do you cue your shoulders?

Shoulders are an issue for so many of us, stress, desk working, carrying and feeding babies, walking with small children, sitting on sofas, having smartphones are just a few reasons why your shoulders may end up rounded.

When I trained in Pilates (quite a few years back!) the emphasis was all on bringing your shoulders round and down, thinking about sliding your shoulder blades into your back pockets. Which is nice cue, it makes sense and has a great visual with it. However as someone who works a lot with postnatal ladies I know that sliding your shoulder blades down can lead to the ribs being thrust forward.

Shoulders round and down works well as long as you don’t then thrust the ribs out. Think about staying in between 2 pains of glass as you roll the shoulds down and back, lengthen through the spine as you do so – this includes lengthening through the neck BTW.

The cue that helps me (a typical rib cage thruster) is shoulders down and wide. If you shrug your shoulders to your ears and then slide them down thinking about your shoulders connecting into your armpits it can help you find your lats – those large back muscles that help keep the shoulder blades in the right place. A nice visual I heard for this recently was to think about a coathanger being in your top. Bringing your shoulders down and keeping them wide.